While there are numerous causes for this type of pain, muscle knots are one of the more common culprits—especially for those of us who work at a desk job. Fortunately, unlike structural problems such as herniated discs, muscle knots can generally be more easily treated or avoided altogether.
Muscle knots are hard, tender sections of muscle fibers that stay tight and contracted even when you’re not actively using them. These knots can show up anywhere in your body, but typically appear in your shoulders, back, and neck.
Your muscles are essential in helping you get around and accomplish all the tasks in your busy day. However, if you’re not careful, your muscles can become stiff and develop uncomfortable knots. This is especially common when your muscles are immobile for extended periods of time—a common problem if you work at a computer all day. Knots can also develop from stress and anxiety, poor posture, dehydration, or overusing or injuring a muscle.
Chances are, you’ve probably experienced a knot in your back, neck, or shoulders in the past. So how do you avoid getting more in the future? Some tips for healthy, knot-free muscles include:
- Exercising daily to keep your muscles active
- Taking periodic breaks to walk around if you’ve been sitting in the same position for more than an hour
- Eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water
- Practicing good posture
- Trying to limit your stress levels
If you’re already struggling with a stubborn muscle knot, try to give yourself a break from whatever is causing the pain. Gentle stretches may help reduce your pain, but be careful not to over-do it. If you’ve been experiencing muscle pain for a while, it may be time to talk to your doctor about physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you identify the cause of your knots and give you helpful exercises to do at home.
This article first appeared in the November 2018 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.
This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Chinese Health Initiative Wellness eNewsletter. Learn more about the Chinese Health Initiative.